The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2020 season.
#34 Jahmir Smith, Running Back
Jahmir Smith is a 5’11”, 205-lb running back from Sanford, North Carolina. As a 3-star recruit in the 2018 class, he was certainly not considered a blue-chip guy, ranked 609th nationally by the 247Sports composite rankings and considered the #26 running back in the class.
With that said, Smith still held offers from a number of Power 5 programs besides Notre Dame, including California, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, Mississippi State, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Purdue, Tennessee, USC, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Smith was also clearly an intelligent young man, as he held offers to play for multiple Ivy League schools — Brown, Harvard, and Princeton, to be precise.
Despite all of those options, he took an unofficial visit to South Bend in July of 2017, and was impressed enough that he committed to the Irish 6 days later, officially signing on Early Signing Day that December so that he could enroll early in January 2018. He was one of two running backs in the class, with C’Bo Flemister signing on as a 3-star prospect as well.
As a freshman in 2018, Smith only saw the field in 2 games, rushing 4 times and making 1 catch against Stanford. Then, in 2019, he exploded onto the scene in the season opener against Louisville, rushing for 24 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 35-17 victory.
Considering starter Tony Jones Jr. received the lion’s share of the carries throughout the season and other backs like Flemister and Jafar Armstrong got playing time as well, Smith didn’t have a TON of production in his first true on-field season.
However, he did manage to average 4.3 yards per carry while rushing for 180 yards on the year. He had his personal-best rushing total against Duke in November, amassing 58 yards rushing in that blowout victory.
I just think Smith is a bowling ball out there, running ugly at times but having the power, stability, and size to run through people while also flashing some nice athleticism and doing some really cool stuff on occasion.
Reminds me of one of the best and most athletic dog breeds around...
Heading into the 2020 season, Jahmir Smith looks likely to see similar playing time this year as he did in 2019. Armstrong is the likely “starter” at the position, 5-star frosh Chris Tyree will likely be too talented to keep off the field, and Flemister will certainly earn some carries after showing the ability to pick up some tough yardage in limited 2019 PT.
But Smith will certainly find a role in this offense, especially as one of the best battering-ram options on the roster. Tony Jones Jr. is taking his powerful running style with him to the NFL, so Smith could definitely get some time in that role along with Flemister in short-yardage and goal line situations, considering Armstrong and Tyree are definitely more built for speed and game-breaking plays than picking up those do-or-die inches in the trenches.
So, I’d expect Smith to see 50-100 carries on the season, probably score a handful of touchdowns, and continue to serve an important but limited role in a running-back-by-committee situation in 2020, potentially establishing himself for an expanded role in 2021 alongside Tyree and Flemister.